Printed in the Iowa City Press-Citizen, Nov. 3, 2009
Our View - Rettig qualifed, but appointment adds an asterisk
We want to congratulate Janelle Rettig on her appointment to the Johnson County Board of Supervisors. We were impressed with her knowledge of county issues when Rettig chaired the Citizens for Our Land, Water and Future Committee last year, and the résumé she submitted to shows a strong amount of government experience working for Democrats and Republicans.
Earlier this year, Rettig had declared herself a candidate for one of the supervisor seats up for election in 2010. As an editorial board, we expect we would have little trouble endorsing her candidacy in that election -- if she were the most qualified candidate running.
But that's also why it's somewhat disappointing that Rettig, who was sworn in as supervisor Friday afternoon, will have an asterisk next to her name to say "appointed" rather than "elected." It's most disappointing, of course, because it comes as the result of the untimely death of Supervisor Larry Meyers. And it's likewise disappointing because appointment, by its very nature, offers less legitimacy to the office holder than election -- even for those who agree that price tag for a special election was too high for the county to pay in the current economic climate.
But it's also disappointing because the process didn't fully pass the smell test. Given that two members of the county appointment committee were at least one-time supporters of Rettig's 2010 run for office -- Auditor Tom Slockett (who said he was supportive early on) and Recorder Kim Painter (who was a member of Rettig's steering committee) -- critics understandably are questioning the degree to which the process was predetermined.
We think the committee has chosen a well qualified appointee. And Slockett and Painter did nothing wrong in appointing a person they've known well and whose candidacy they've supported at different levels. (We know of no official conflicts of interests that would have required any committee member to recuse himself or herself.)
But the decision to appoint Rettig is political enough that it might inspire the required 7,299 residents to demand a special election by Nov. 13. Those organizing a petition drive say they've already collected about 4,500 signatures.
Whether Rettig serves until the 2010 election or until a special election in a few weeks, we wish her luck in her new position.
We also encourage all our readers to exercise their democratic rights and to participate in today's city elections. We've already made our endorsements -- Iowa City at-large (Terry Dickens and Susan Mims), Iowa City District B (Connie Champion), Coralville (Tom Gill, Bill Hoeft and John Lundell) and North Liberty (Gerry Kuhl and Brian Wayson) -- but there are also elections in University Heights, Hills, Lone Tree, Oxford, Shueyville, Solon, Swisher and Tiffin.
For more election information, visit the Johnson County auditor's Web site at, www.johnson-county.com/auditor/voter/0911elec.htm.